Tamil film critics R S Anantham, J Bismi and C Sakthivel have come under fire for making sexist comments while discussing actor Ajith’s latest movie Nerkonda Paarvai. A clip featuring the trio exhibiting patriarchal views has gone viral on social media.
Nerkonda Paarvai is the Tamil remake of Hindi hit Pink. It tackles the subject of consent and a woman’s right to say “no”. The reviewers of YouTube channel Valai Pechu, which has more than 2 lakh subscribers, suggested that the outgoing and modern personalities of the principal female characters in the film provided a solid ground for men to target them. In short, ‘these women asked for it.’
“Do those girls have my sympathy? No,” Anantham said. He added, “Because they look like upper-class girls. They go to pubs, drink alcohol and they had their first sex at the age of 19. And later they have had sex with two other men also. When we know all these things about these women, we feel, ‘who cares what happens to them’?”
In other words, Anantham says that he does not feel anxious about the women in the movie getting hurt because of their lifestyle, adding that it is a “big minus for this film.”
Bismi doubled down on the misogyny by invoking north-south divide. “Girls going to pubs and having sex is a very common practice in the north. That’s why Pink became such a hit there. And the audience also did not take offence to it. But, according to our Tamil culture and way of life, this sort of things feel strange to us. And that’s why we don’t feel like not caring whatever happens to them,” he said.
“அந்த ஊர் மேயற பொண்ணுகளுக்கு என்ன நடந்தா என்னன்னு தான் நமக்கு தோணுது”
“Girls Going to pub and having sex with boys is very much casual in NORTH but not in South” says these Tamil reviewers. #NerKondaPaarvai
— TW ᵀʳᵒˡˡʸʷᵒᵒᵈ (@TrollywoodV5) August 6, 2019
Even celebrities have reacted strongly to the comments of the critics. “#Valaipechu has always been desperate,shameless, uneducated and repulsive yellow journalism. To expect standards from people like them is a waste of time. Strip them of their power. Stop calling them journalists. Real journalists must come together and save their industry first,” actor Siddharth tweeted.
“Let the film fraternity clearly distinguish between journalists with integrity and those who will stoop to any level for clicks. PROs and filmmakers must blacklist defaulting individuals. Gossip culture cannot be stopped. You can however fight against it. Change the bad habits! (sic),” he added.
Singer and #MeToo activist Chinmayi Sriprada wrote on Twitter, “The everyday misogyny and justification of ‘They asked for it’ by 3 mainstream Tamil reviewers.”
#Valaipechu has always been desperate,shameless, uneducated and repulsive yellow journalism. To expect standards from people like them is a waste of time. Strip them of their power. Stop calling them journalists. Real journalists must come together and save their industry first.
— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) August 7, 2019
“Hahahhaah…they are not even worth a single tweet bcos that just means more people will watch their nonsensical so called review..my god how backward are these people..?? Are you serious..?? You dont care what happens to girls just bcos they are outgoing..?? (sic),” actor Varalaxmi Sarathkumar said via Twitter.
Following the backlash, the controversial video has been taken down from Valai Pechu’s YouTube channel.
“We have learnt that some of our statements in the recently released video review of #NerkondaPaaravai has hurt the sentiments of many, and we regret to have made these statements. The particular video has been taken down (sic),” read a tweet on Valai Pechu’s Twitter account.